And the award for the biggest loser in sport goes to…
Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards. Britain’s first Olympic ski jumper is best remembered for finishing last in the 70m and 90m events in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Organisers panned his dire performance but the public loved the geeky, bespectacled plasterer from Cheltenham and Edwards went on to enjoy huge commercial success.
Probably best he packed the day job in then.
Actually, Edwards, who turns 50 today (THURS), is now planning his big comeback. Next week he is jetting off to Bavaria, where he will take on the Garmisch-Partenkirchen New Year ski jump. The married father of two told the Gloucestershire Echo: “This will be my last chance to have a go and see if I can still do it.”
But I thought he was rubbish?
He is…by global standards. However, in 1988, Edwards was the British ski jumping record holder. Clearly that wasn’t saying much – he became a token underdog and a symbol of Britain’s poor prowess in various sports at the time.
All you can do is your best.
Edwards’ thought exactly. He also said of his return: “I’ve always had that ‘have a go’ spirit. It’s not reckless because I think about the risk and every conceivable thing that could go wrong. I am nervous but also quite excited.”
You mentioned commercial success…
Edwards failed to qualify for the next three Winter Games, but his projection into the public eye opened up a number of opportunities. Over the years, he has released a book called On the Piste, appeared in a number of advertising campaigns, including for Churchill car insurance, and co-hosted a show on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Most recently, he won this year’s ITV celebrity diving programme, Splash!
So he won something? Talk about rising from the ashes…
It hasn’t been an entirely smooth flight for The Eagle. In 1992, Edwards was forced to declare himself bankrupt after the people employed to deal with his trust fund handled things badly. He sued the trustees for mismanagement and negligence and settled out of court. At one time, Edwards was earning £10,000 an hour, but these days he is said to charge a more modest £1,000 an hour for after-dinner motivational speeches. Not bad for a loser.